Ethiopian Sloppy Joes

This is my adaptation of a traditional Ethiopian dish called dinich wat.  It is a favorite of my family.  If I make enough to actually have leftovers the next day, my kids have been known to argue over who gets them.  I double this recipe for my family of 10.

Preparation Time: 50 minutes

Serves 6

  • 2 large onions
  • 6 potatoes
  • 1 pound ground beef, already browned
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 to 3 tsp cayenne pepper (add gradually, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups water

Cook ground beef in a large heavy skillet and set it aside.  Wipe excess grease from skillet .  Peel onions and puree them in a food processor (or mince them very fine). Peel and mash garlic. Peel and chop potatoes into 1 inch cubes.

Heat oil in a large skillet and add pureed onions. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown a little.  Add garlic, tomato sauce, water, and potatoes.  Add the ginger, turmeric, cayenne, pepper and salt.  Mix well. Add cooked ground beef.

Stir and cook over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 3-5 minutes.  The mixture will look a little watery at first, but water will gradually evaporate as potatoes cook. Add the butter during the last few minutes of cooking.  If potatoes stick to the bottom of the skillet even after adding butter, add another 1/2 cup of water and turn
down the heat a little.  Dish is done when potatoes are cooked through.

Serve hot over injera or rice, or on toasted hamburger buns, or serve it alongside a nice green salad.


Note: If you happen to have berbere, a traditional Ethiopian seasoning, you may use it (to taste) in place of the  cayenne, ginger, and turmeric in this recipe.  I used 2 generous
tablespoons of berbere when I made this recipe yesterday for my spice-loving family.



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  1. Made this tonight after looking at your post…what a hit!!!!! Thanks so much!!!

  2. I made it last night too.. everyone loved it and everyone is not always easily pleased. I was honestly shocked but this is going into the regular rotation!! Thanks, Mary!

  3. This is AMAZING! My husband said he wished he could eat the whole pan without bursting. The 5 and 7 yr boys said we should make it more often. I used only 1/2 tsp cayenne and lentils instead of beef. SO. GOOD. Thank you.

  4. Just made this dish and found it easy to make and kids complained that I had not made a double batch!
    I substituted spaghetti sauce (always have on hand and cheaper to buy than tom. sauce) and then used the empty container as the amount of water and it turned out perfect, did not use any of the spices called for, and made without the meat and substituted some lentils and tofu-serving over rice and with strawberrry shortcake.
    This is definately on our ‘winter’ menu.


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